Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Congratulations to Outback Queens Boulevard for having zero health violation points at its last inspection! Sambuca? Well, let's hope the family-style Italian restaurant does better the next time around.

Here is a list of New York City restaurant inspection scores for GFRAP-approved restaraunts and GIG-approved Outbacks, including dates of inspection. The lower the score, the better the inspection, with a score of 28 or higher constituting a failing grade.

I couldn't find inspection listings for Peters' and Bloom's (closed due to fire); so, with those eateries qualifying as unknowns, all the restaurants but Sambuca passed inspection.

For some perspective: In January, fancy restaurant Per Se scored a 22; in February, popular Artepasta scored a 52. For details about all of this and the most up-to-date results, check Restaurant Inspection Information at The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
00 03/16/2005 Outback Steakhouse Queens Blvd. (Queens)
08 02/01/2006 Bistango Restaurant (Manhattan)
08 01/11/2006 Asia de Cuba (Manhattan)
09 05/26/2005 Outback Steakhouse Third Ave. (Manhattan)
12 01/19/2006 Tropica Bar & Seafood House (Manhattan)
15 01/25/2006 Lumi Restaurant (Manhattan)
16 04/12/2005 Outback Steakhouse Bell Blvd. (Queens)
17 10/13/2004 Outback Steakhouse Bay Ridge (Brooklyn)
18 01/01/2006 Outback Steakhouse Chelsea (Manhattan)
22 01/24/2006 Candle 79 (Manhattan)
27 06/13/2005 Risotteria (Manhattan)
34 02/13/2006 Sambuca Restaurant (Manhattan)
GFRAP restaurants in New York City are listed here. Outbacks can be found here.

Friday, March 24, 2006


If you've enjoyed dining gluten-free at Risotteria or Peters' or any other Big Apple eateries associated with the Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program, you know that GFRAP has raised the quality of life for celiacs in New York City and beyond.

How about helping GFRAP with its mission? Volunteer work and donations are both welcome. For more information (a meeting is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, April 2, 2006), contact Liz Lebo, Tri-State Area GFRAP Coordinator, at tri-state-gfrap@WestchesterCeliacs.org.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


What a bummer to wake up this morning and learn that the Happy Happy Happy bakery is winding down its operations!

Here's the current status of the bakery:
The retail store is closed.

The web business will be operational from March 25-April 24, 2006.

Retail store gift certificates will be honored until June 18, 2006.

Wedding cake and catering orders will be fulfilled through July 2, 2006.
So why is Happy Happy Happy closing? This web page offers some details, but here's the short answer:
The current market for high-quality fresh-baked gluten-free dairy-free desserts is not yet large enough to sustain a medium-sized baking facility in New York City.
Business seems to have been good, but the cost of a planned expansion would not have been supported by the expected increase in business without the bakery making compromises that it did not want to make.

There's a chance that the bakery will figure out a way to resume operations at some point in the future. Let's hope that it'll return and be better better better than ever!

Photo: David Marc Fischer

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Did you hear about that bomb shelter recently rediscovered inside the Brooklyn Bridge? It contained more than 350,000 Survival Crackers to sustain people after a major catastrophe.

More than 350,000 Survival Crackers! I wonder how much good they'd be for survivors with celiac disease or wheat allergies. If you look very, very closely at the above picture, you'll see that the first ingredient listed is Wheat Flour.

I bring this up because ever since the 9/11 attacks I've been concerned about food supplies provided to crisis survivors. Most people can eat conventional bread and crackers safely but of course some of us can't. "Special foods" can become scarce in a crisis that affects a large region such as the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The American Celiac Disease Alliance (formerly the American Celiac Task Force) has put this issue on its front burner. Another one of its goals is assisting the FDA in determining a standard for determining which foods qualify as gluten-free. Still another goal is getting insurance companies to recognize consultations with dietitians as being reimbursable for celiacs.

What else do you think the ACDA should tackle? I can think of four items off the top of my head: creating a national standard for providing medically safe foods to hospital and nursing home patients and other people who receive their food through "institutions," getting the IRS to establish standard deductions for gluten-free food expenses, creating a free database of gluten-free medications, and creating a free database of gluten-free products. I don't think that the groups that have been making those product lists should be simply put out of business; perhaps they can be incorporated to work on such a project.

You can email your ideas to the ACDA via info@americanceliac.org.

Here's the group's press release:

What started as a grassroots campaign urging Congress to require labeling of food allergens has become a broad based advocacy organization, American Celiac Disease Alliance, aimed at providing a uniform voice on behalf of persons with Celiac Disease.

More than two years ago, an ad hoc group of 15 leaders in the celiac community, came together to help pass the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) in Congress. The bill became law on August 3, 2004, easing much of the guesswork in food shopping for some 11 million consumers with food allergies.

With this achievement, the Task Force realized the need for a permanent, advocacy organization, and elected to become the American Celiac Disease Alliance, Inc. (ACDA). This step formalizes the role of the Alliance as the umbrella organization representing the needs of the celiac community for the advancement of education, research, and advocacy as recommended by the NIH consensus panel on celiac disease in June 2004.

A not-for-profit organization, the mission of the ACDA is to provide a uniform voice on behalf of persons with Celiac Disease through education and advocacy initiatives.

Some of the early goals of the organization that are being considered include assisting the FDA in determining a gluten-free standard for foods manufactured or imported into in the United States. The FDA is required to create such a standard by August 2008.

Disaster preparedness and improving insurance reimbursement for dietitians who provide nutritional counseling to persons diagnosed with Celiac Disease are also on the top of the Alliance's project list.

Dietitians are a critical resource for newly diagnosed celiac patients and consultations with them are currently not reimbursed under many insurance plans. The group will be working with major health insurance providers to have dieticians paid for the services they provide to celiac patients.

ACDA is contacting key disaster preparedness groups such as the Red Cross and FEMA to help them develop protocol for meeting gluten-free diet needs during natural disasters. The group is also preparing a checklist of items that individuals should stock in case of emergency.

The ACDA is a volunteer organization headed by Executive Director, Andrea Levario, JD. The founding members of the organization are listed below.

Celiac Disease Center at Columbia UniversityNew York, NY
University of Chicago Celiac Disease Program Chicago, IL
University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research Baltimore, MD

Associate Members:
American Celiac Society www.americanceliacsociety.org
Celiac Disease Foundation www.celiac.org
Gluten Intolerance Group www.gluten.net

Industry Members:
Bob & Ruth's Gluten-free Dining & Travel www.bobandruths.com
Ener-G Foods, Inc. www.energ.com
Gluten-Free Living Magazine www.glutenfreeliving.com
Glutino-USA www.glutenfree.com
Living Without www.livingwithout.com
Prometheus Laboratories Inc. www.prometheuslabs.com

Affiliate Members:
Allison Herwitt
Andrea Levario, J.D.
Joseph Murray, M.D.
Michelle Pietzak, M.D.

For Further Information Contact: Andrea Levario, Exec. Director
Photo courtesy of Alison Grippo (alison.grippo@gmail.com)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Passover is a strange holiday in some ways. For centuries, Jewish kids have recited something called The Four Questions, but it's actually one question followed by four answers. Go figure.

Of course, if you get a bunch of celiacs around a seder table, there are bound to be more questions. One would be "Who makes a good gluten-free matzoh ball mix?"

Year after year, I've heard the same answer: Lieber's. I haven't tried Lieber's Knaidel Mix myself, but I look forward to doing so eventually.

You might be able to find Lieber's Knaidel Mix in stores that sell kosher foods. It might also be available via Kosher.com and The Dietary Shoppe.

Good luck!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The death of group leader Dunnie Chenal last September "has left a wide gap in our organization" that "must be filled right away," says the latest newsletter of the CSA Greater New York City Celiac Support Group. Attendees at the group's next meeting are asked to be "prepared to suggest, nominate, vote, or stand for a new Chairperson."

The meeting, which will include a tip exchange, is scheduled for Monday, April 24, 2006 from 6:30-8:30 pm at the Seafarers & International House (123 East 15th Street).

Two dinner gatherings are also planned. The first is scheduled for Monday, March 27, 2006 at 6 pm at a GFRAP restaurant: Bistango (415 Third Avenue at East 29th Street). The second is scheduled for Wednesday, May 10, 2006 at 6 pm at Mumbles (179 Third Avenue at East 17th Street).

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Westchester Celiac Sprue Support Group will meet Sunday, March 26, 2006 from 2 to 4 pm at Phelps Memorial Hospital in Sleepy Hollow, New York.

The "main event" will be a discussion on "La Dolce Vita Gluten Free" featuring celiac chick Kelly Courson, Silly Yak entrepreneur Peter Marino, and Risotteria owner-chef Joseph Pace.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Don't get too excited about the fact that New York describes its favorite cupcake as being free of "eggs, dairy, sugar, and wheat." The magazine goes on to say that the Babycakes cupcake is made with spelt.

Some spelt marketers claim that the grain is not part of the wheat family, but you'd be hard pressed to find an authority who agrees. Spelt continues to be forbidden to people on medical gluten-free diets.

Here's how the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network puts it:
Spelt is an ancient wheat that has recently been marketed as safe for wheat-allergic individuals. This claim is untrue, however. Wheat-allergic patients can react as readily to spelt as they do to common wheat.
Yesterday I confirmed that Babycakes currently markets its spelt cupcakes as being wheat-free. I hope that the bakery will take remedial measures and team up with the Gluten-Free Restaurant Awareness Program to ensure that it can serve wheat-free and gluten-free people safely.

By changing its labeling, Babycakes would be acting responsibly and also protecting itself from problems such as those faced by the French Meadow Bakery, which had more than 50,000 bread loaves confiscated by the FDA because it was slow to remove the wheat-free label from its spelt breads.

Monday, March 06, 2006

"In your clinical experience, what is the role of food allergy and/or intolerance in the genesis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?" asked Medscape Gastroenterology (February 7, 2006) of Dr. Sunanda V. Kane of Chicago.

"Patients with IBD are more likely to suffer from food allergies or intolerances than the normal population," was part of Dr. Kane's response.

Also: "Certainly those patients who have undiagnosed food intolerances are less likely to respond to standard IBD therapies."

Dr. Kane advises doctors to counsel patients "regarding their dietary habits to monitor which specific foods or food groups may trigger worse gastrointestinal or systemic symptoms" and notes that elimination diets are rarely needed for IBD patients.